This past week I went through my first bout of Culture Shock. I knew it would happen sooner or later but in all honesty I expected it to be later. Culture Shock is the feeling of disorientation, sadness, or annoyance when living in or visiting another country. It can be caused by language differences, change in routine, change in relationships, and change in eating/sleeping habits. Gee I’ve only experienced a few of these recently…lol
I noticed 2 weeks ago I was having feelings of not liking the Spanish language anymore. I found myself frustrated that I wasn’t learning as fast as I wanted, I didn’t want to go to school anymore, and I was annoyed with people who kept speaking Spanish. I mean seriously I’m living in a country where Spanish is the primary language and I’m annoyed with people for speaking Spanish…craziness!!!
It all caught up to me last Sunday after church. I hadn’t slept well the night before and I was exhausted. I spent the whole service feeling completely lost and struggling to understand some of the easiest Spanish words. By the time we got to lunch I was DONE with Spanish and was so grateful to the waiter who asked if if we needed an English menu. There I sat with my English menu, feeling like a complete failure as Dylan and Colleen read and ordered in what seemed to me perfect, fluent, Spanish.
As the rest of Sunday and Monday progressed things got worse. I slipped into a total funk that even prayer didn’t deliver me from. We relaxed, watched some familiar shows, and ate some familiar food. It was to no avail because I found myself going over and over in my head all the things I don’t like about being here. Like having to learn Spanish, or trying to remember the correct conjugation (5 for each verb) for the correct tense (I’ve learned 6 so far, 12 more to go) whenever I’m trying to talk, I was tired of looking like an idiot every time I screw it up and that something as simple as talking with people takes SO MUCH effort. I missed my comfy bed and hate that this one makes my back and hips hurt every night, and I SERIOUSLY felt like I would scream if I had to step over one more pile of poop or puddle of pee on my walk to school! I was tired of not having a car so I can go somewhere if I want to, I was missing not having stores close by that have all the things I need, I was tired of eating beans and plantains almost everyday for breakfast and what I wouldn’t have done for some bacon and home fries, and most of all I don’t like not being able to go to my home church and have my friends and family close.
Then all the feelings of guilt started as I thought “there are so many hurt, hungry, suffering, people here who don’t have ANY of these things you’re complaining about missing. On top of all this they don’t have Jesus to comfort and care for them. I felt horrible. Thankfully, we learned A LOT about culture shock during our training in Texas and I was able to recognize it for what it was. However, that explanation didn’t help me feel much better.
I kept praying and thanking God, like always, for the privilege of being here and serving Him in this way. But I just didn’t feel it. What I really wanted to pray was “Jesus, please get me a plane ticket outta here ASAP.” As we walked to school Monday I tried to focus on the beauty of this place
and I tried to get excited to learn Spanish…it didn’t help. FINALLY, I did what I knew I should have done in the beginning and I reached out to some of my prayer warriors for help. I asked them to please cover me in prayer for Jesus to return to me the heart He has given me for this country and the people here and that He would block out the lies that I’m a horrible person and a failure.
As soon as I sent the e-mail I felt so much better. Just to get it all out and reach out to some of the huge support network God has blessed us with, why didn’t I do this sooner?? Later that night and over the next few days I received so many messages of encouragement and prayer from my dear friends. I was given some prayers to pray for myself and as I did I felt empowered and encouraged and started to feel like “me” again.
There are still some things in that LONG list that get to me about living here but I can honestly say I no longer feel like “I can’t do this anymore” or “I’m on the next plane outta here” and I am so grateful for that. I find myself feeling blessed as I remember there are so many who are struggling so much more for what God has called them to. I know that this is what God has called me to and He will continue to give me the strength and encouragement I need to do this. Yes, there are hard times but He never promised it would be easy He only promised that He would always be with me and because of that I know I can make it through any time “I’m Shocked” 🙂
“I have told you these things so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33